National Prevention Week highlights substance abuse

The National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has named May 18 to 23 as National Prevention Week. This year’s theme is: Our lives. Our health. Our future. It emphasizes that the prevention of substance abuse and the promotion of good mental health starts with the choices each of us make in our own lives.

Through our choices, we can set an example of health and well-being for our families and communities. With our voices, whether spoken or written, we can raise awareness of substance abuse and mental health issues and help create healthier and safer communities.

This observance is an opportunity to join with other individuals, organizations and coalitions in our community to promote prevention efforts, educate others about behavioral health issues and create and strengthen community partnerships.

Each day of National Prevention Week 2014 has a unique focus to recognize the multiple facets of behavioral health:

May 18: Prevention and cessation of tobacco use.

May 19: Prevention of underage drinking.

May 20: Prevention of prescription drug abuse and marijuana use.

Today: Prevention of alcohol abuse.

Thursday: Prevention of suicide.

Friday: Promotion of good mental health.

Our local community agencies and schools provide many evidence-based programs and strategies promoting mental and emotional well-being and preventing substance abuse. You can play a role in prevention. Your choices make a big difference. Please decide to make some of these healthy choices that help prevent substance abuse and promote mental health in your own life and in our community:

Take care of your own health and well-being.

Safeguard and properly dispose of prescription and over-the-counter medications to reduce the chance of misuse or abuse.

Learn about and support the Fulton Montgomery Suicide Prevention Task Force and learn the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number: 1-800-273-TALK.

Stay tobacco-free or seek help to quit smoking or using tobacco.

Encourage your children, friends and family members to improve their mental, emotional and behavioral health by promoting rest, a healthy diet, physical exercise and time outdoors.

Talk with a friend or loved one who has been having a difficult time. Point them in the direction of resources that can help them.

Host a tobacco-, drug- and alcohol-free party or event.

Have an open conversation with your children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Celebrate and share the successes of your friends and loved ones who are living sober, healthy lives in recovery from alcohol or other drug addiction.

Let’s have a very healthy and happy summer and enjoy the beautiful area in which we live. If you would like more information about National Prevention Week, or if you would like information about local resources, please call the HFM Prevention Council or ASAPP’S Promise at 736-8188.

This column was submitted by Ann Brennan Rhodes, Executive Director, HFM Prevention Council.